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Alabama hostage crisis in 2nd day

Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:59 AM   |   Comments

MIDLAND CITY, Ala., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The standoff between law enforcement officials and a man suspected of killing a school bus driver and taking a child hostage in Alabama passed the 30-hour mark.

Officials said the child, a 6-year-old boy, seemed to be OK inside a bunker on the hostage-taker's property and was given access to medicine and coloring supplies, WSFA-TV, Montgomery, Ala., reported Thursday.

The child, whose name hasn't been published, has been in an underground bunker with his captor since Tuesday, when he was taken from the school bus. The abductor, identified by neighbors as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, is accused of boarding the child's bus near Midland City, shooting and killing the bus driver and kidnapping the boy.

Hostage negotiators have asked the suspect to turn over the child and surrender to authorities, using a PVC pipe connected to his bunker as the line of communications.

Officials said the situation was "static."

A motive has not been revealed. Officials said it seems the man and child don't know each other.

"We have no reason to believe that the child has been harmed," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said during a Wednesday afternoon media briefing. A second briefing was canceled because there was no new information.

Citizens attended vigils at churches and other locations, lighting candles and praying for the boy's safe release and in memory of the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr.

"Right now the whole town seems like they're just in a mourning stage," convenience store manager Carl McKenzie told WSFA. "I would go take that child's place if I could, just to get him out of danger."

Court records indicate Dykes was supposed to be in court Wednesday on menacing charges.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and underground organizations, said Dykes came to their attention after Tuesday's events because of anti-American beliefs they say he's demonstrated, WSFA reported.

Sources close to the investigation told the broadcaster Dykes is a "survivalist" and his bunker was stocked with supplies that allowed him to stay there for an extended period.

A man who spoke with several children who were on the school bus said the students told him they witnessed a man step into the bus, shoot the driver and take a young boy hostage.

Michael Senn, a minister whose church owns the building occupied by Destiny Church near where the incident began, told WSFA he spoke with several of the children later.

Senn said one girl told him that the man who got on board told most of the students to get off. He then grabbed a young boy and shot the bus driver four times. He said the children who got off the bus ran and hid behind Destiny Church.

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